These pumpkin empanadas are full of earthy-sweet flavors that celebrate the taste of fall. These turnovers with a sweet pumpkin filling and traditional fall spices such as cinnamon and clove are the perfect afternoon dessert or snacks. The best thing is that these ready-made empanadas can be frozen and reheated to enjoy later.
Have you ever had a pumpkin empanada? If you haven't, you are seriously missing out!
Back when I used to travel every month in the northern states of Mexico, one of the many stops was to get a bite on the side of the road. During the colder months, my favorite food was empanadas de calabaza (the Spanish word for pumpkin)
The memories of those pumpkin empanadas came to my mind last weekend! Seeing pumpkins everywhere made me feel a craving to bake some. Deciding to make them with a yeasty dough was a personal option since that is the way I remember the dough flavor to taste as they do it in other northern states, but you can use your own pastry or pie recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pumpkin Empanadas
Before I share my empanada recipe, here are a few frequently asked questions about homemade pumpkin turnovers.
What are traditionally in empanadas?
Empanadas are what we call in the States "turnovers". A half-moon-shaped pastry with a filling, either fried or baked.
There are so many types of empanadas out there. And every country has its own version. For example, some countries prefer pie or pastry dough over traditional empanada dough, while a local fruit or filling will be used for the stuffing.
In Mexico, we have a large variety of empanadas; mainly, what makes them different is their filling or the dough used to make them. You can either have corn dough empanadas or like these wheat flour empanadas. The stuffing also makes a difference, like cheese or beef for savory flavors or fruits or jams for sweet empanadas.
Do I need baking powder for turnovers?
No, do not use baking powder in these pumpkin empanadas. Baking powder will make them too airy if you do. Instead, combine yeast, milk, and sugar to give the dough the perfect amount of rising.
Are empanadas better fried or baked?
I like to bake my pumpkin empanadas because it is less messy and healthier, and I can bake a huge batch all at once. You can certainly deep fry them if you want to. They will have a crispier and greasier texture if you fry them.
How do you store the Pumpkin empanadas?
After completely cooling down, place them in an airtight container to keep them fresh for the next couple of days. You can always place the empanadas in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
How do you freeze empanadas?
To freeze your pumpkin empanadas, bake them entirely and then let them cool. After cooling off, put them on a baking sheet with parchment paper in a single layer and place the baking sheet in the freezer. This step will freeze the empanadas, so they don't stick together in the freezer bag.
After completely frozen, place them in a freezer-safe resealable food storage bag. Keep the frozen empanadas in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Homemade Authentic Pumpkin Empanada Recipe
Here is a list of ingredients you will need to make this dish…
- Pumpkin (cubed)
- Piloncillo (or brown sugar)
- Ground Cinnamon
- Cinnamon Stick
- Ground Anise Seeds
- Ground Clove Spice
- All-Purpose Flour
- Eggs (Large size)
- Warm Milk (whole)
- Dry Yeast
- Melted Butter
Please note: For exact measurements of the ingredients listed above, scroll down to the recipe card located at the bottom of this post!
How To Make Empanadas de Calabaza: Step By Step Tutorial
To make things easier for you, I will break down the directions for this recipe into sections.
Cook The Pumpkin Pie Filling
- Place the pumpkin in a saucepan with the piloncillo, water, and cinnamon stick.
- Bring to a boil, cook for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat until the pumpkin is tender, and remove the cinnamon stick.
Note: At this time, the piloncillo should have dissolved entirely.
- Add the ground cinnamon, ground anise, and clove. Keep cooking uncovered for about 20 or more minutes, and frequently stir until the mixture takes the texture of a jam. This step can be done ahead of time and has to be at room temperature before forming the empanadas.
Form The Dough
- Place the yeast in a small bowl, add the warm milk and let it proof for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the flour, eggs, melted and cooled butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture and mix to form a soft dough.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl turning to coat it with the oil. Cover with plastic and let it rest for about 1 ½ hour in a warm place.
- After that period time, knead the dough again for 2-3 minutes and divide it into 12 small softballs to start forming the empanadas. Cover with plastic.
Make The Pumpkin Empanadas
- With the help of your rolling pin, roll out each dough ball on a lightly floured surface into circles of about 7 inches in diameter.
- Place about ¼ cup of pumpkin mixture in each center; fold the dough to enclose the filling and form a half-moon shape. Seal edges by crimping with a fork.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Arrange empanadas on two greased baking sheets; brush with egg wash and sprinkle with some sugar if desired. Let them rest for about 30-35 minutes until the dough rise.
- Bake until the crusts are light brown, 15 to 18 minutes; rotate pans between racks halfway through.
Update: I placed some of these empanadas in the freezer for later use. You know those times when you want to have some coffee and a sweet thing to go alone? Well, I put one in the toaster oven while my coffee was brewing, and it tasted great. Really crispy with its soft filling. So now you know they freeze well!
What To Serve With Pumpkin Empanadas
These pumpkin empanadas make a beautiful dessert or snack, so all you need are some hot drinks to go along with it.
I love to serve it along with some cafe de olla!
More Authentic Mexican Recipes To Enjoy
If you enjoyed this recipe for empanadas de Calabaza, take a look at some of these other authentic Mexican recipes:
- 2 ½ pound pumpkin seeded without skin and cut in large cubes
- 6 oz. Piloncillo or brown sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick of about one inch This will be removed after the pumpkin cooks
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground anise seeds
- ¼ tsp. ground clove spice
For the dough:
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- ⅓ cup warm milk
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ stick of melted butter
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 egg lightly beaten to brush the empanadas
CHECK THE VIDEO RECIPE
Cook the pumpkin pie filling
- Place the pumpkin in a saucepan with the piloncillo, ¼ cup of water , and the cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin is tender. Remove the cinnamon stick.
- At this time, the piloncillo should have been dissolved; add the ground cinnamon, ground anise, and clove. Keep cooking uncovered for about 20 or more minutes, frequently stirring until the mixture takes the texture of a jam. This can be done ahead of time and must to be a room temperature before forming the empanadas.
Form the dough
- Place the yeast in a small bowl, add the warm milk and let it proof for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the Flour, eggs, melted and cool butter, sugar and , salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture and mix to form a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes , adding more flour if needed.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl turning to coat it with the oil. Cover with plastic and let it rest for about 1 ½ hours in a warm place.
- After that period knead the dough again for 2-3 minutes and divide it into 12 small soft balls to start forming the empanadas. Cover with plastic.
Make the empanadas
- With the help of your rolling pin, roll out each dough balls on a lightly floured surface into circles of about 7 inches in diameter , stretching it if necessary.
- Place about ¼ cup of filling in the center of each; fold dough to enclose the filling and form a half moon. Seal edges by crimping with a fork.
If you want your empanadas to look symmetric, once you fold the circle , place a cereal bowl upside down and press to cut any excess dough, like shown in the picture.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange empanadas on 2 greased baking sheets; brush with egg wash and dust with some sugar if you desired. Let them rest for about 30-35 minutes until the dough raises.
- Bake until light brown, 15 to 18 minutes; rotate pans between racks halfway through. Baking time will vary depending on your oven.
If you want to obtain a dark golden color in your empanadas, do not add sugar to the topping and place them for 2-3 minutes under your broiler stove after baking them, watching carefully to avoid burning them.
- I placed some of these empanadas in the freezer for later use. You know those times when you want to have some coffee and a sweet thing to go alone?. Well, I put one in the toaster oven while my coffee was brewing, and it tasted great. Really crispy with its soft filling. So now you know they freeze well.